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No deals likely with Caldwell-Pope, Bullock as deadline nears

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Pistons' Kentavious Caldwell-Pope dunks in the third quarter for two of his game-high 21 points.

Auburn Hills — It looks like the deadline to sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Bullock is going to pass without a deal. The Pistons and the players’ agents are continuing talks, but if there’s no agreement by 5 p.m. Monday, the two could become restricted free agents next summer.

Van Gundy has said since the start of training camp that the two sides continue to negotiate, but as of Sunday, they weren’t near an extension for either of them.

“We have not been able to reach an agreement with either guy right now; we’ll see what happens. It is not a make-or-break thing for us,” Van Gundy said before Sunday’s game. “I don’t look at is as a necessity, but we would like to get something done. We like both guys and we would like to have them around long term.”

The next step is to see whether either player gets an offer from another team — which the Pistons could choose to match — or agree on a new deal.

It’s a dicey proposition for Caldwell-Pope, who has an established role as one of the league’s top perimeter defenders since he was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft. He’s slated to make $3.7 million this season but because of the expanded salary cap last season, he could command upwards of $18 million to $20 million as a free agent.

What the Pistons have offered so far in their negotiations is unclear, but if the numbers are anywhere near the projections, the Pistons — who already are over the salary cap — could surpass the luxury tax.

Caldwell-Pope shooting blanks, but Pistons aren't worried

Pistons owner Tom Gores said last month that going over the tax threshold isn’t an issue, especially if the team continues to make progress, as they did in making the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

“There’s no hesitation and the reason is we have a core and something to work with,” Gores said last month. “If we didn’t have something to work with and go over the luxury tax for no reason, I don’t think Stan would want to do that. We have a real core, so absolutely, we’ll do that.”

While Caldwell-Pope is more valuable on the defensive end, he’s still developing a consistent offensive skill set. He was proven durable, though, averaging 36.7 minutes, ranking among the league leaders last season.

But even without Caldwell-Pope, there’s no clear heir apparent for next season as the starter.

He averaged career highs of 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists but a career-low 31 percent on 3-pointers. His percentage from beyond the arc was at 35 percent his second year, after hitting 32 percent as a rookie.

Bullock, a 6-foot-7 wing, is in his fourth season as well, but isn’t currently in Van Gundy’s nine-man the playing rotation.

He averaged 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds last season, but made his mark down the stretch, when he was a 3-point threat, hitting 42 percent off the bench.

While his contract number is a bit more manageable at $2.3 million this season, he could seek a bigger payday on the open market.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard